A river of smoke more than 100 kilometers wide streams several hundred kilometers southward from fires (marked in red) in northern China (top left) in this image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer <a HREF="http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov">(MODIS)</a> on NASA’s <a HREF="http://aqua.nasa.gov" target="outlink">Aqua</a> satellite on October 15, 2004. Another large cluster of fires is burning in southeastern Russia (right).According to news reports on October 18, at least some of the fires in China were burning in and near forestry farms in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, and thousands of people and their property were threatened by the blazes. The cause of the fires was still unknown. Across the Amur River (called Heilong Jiang in Chinese), a state of emergency had been declared in southeastern Russia as fires raged in the region’s taiga forests, steppes, and peat bogs. Strong winds were fanning the rapidly spreading fires, and weather was not expected to improve in the short term.